Sunday 16 September 2007

Bathtime blindings and the curse of Sockula

I have discussed before, in this post, that we have to be increasingly careful what we say because little ears are always listening, and we never quite know what trouble we might later unwittingly unleash if we aren't very careful. But sadly, both Nini and I are recently guilty of forgetting that..

The first incident for your consideration was a few weeks ago. After a lengthy and miserable drive, I arrived home from work just in time to find both girls being bathed, with only a short while left until bedtime. Hunkering down and leaning over the bath, I cooed and gurgled a greeting to Nevey, who chuckled, and promptly rammed her podgy forefinger into my left eye with the force and accuracy of a ninja master. I reeled back in agony, clutching at my face and unable to stop myself from shouting aloud:
Paul: "Awauuuuuugh! My eye! COCKING HELL!"
Nini: "Don't say that! Not in front of the children!"
Through the streaming tears I looked angrily at my wife. Truth is, using that kind of language is me showing restraint. I am capable of waaaaaay coarser and more imaginative swearing than that, and under the circumstances I actually felt I deserved some credit for having the presence of mind to not break out some of the big guns...
N: "You have to watch what you say..."
P: "I...I was! You did notice that little savage just gouged my eye out, right?"
N: "They take it all in, you know"
P: (hissing angrily) "They do when you go to this much trouble to point the problem out, yes..."
We both turn and look at Amelie. She is clearly waiting patiently for her moment.
Amelie: (with exquisite comic timing) "Cocking hell"
N: "See?"
P: "No, woman, I can't see anything....argh, I think I am blind in this eye now..."
A: "Cocking hell!"
N: "Your eye will be fine. It's your mouth that's the problem..."
A: "Cocking hell!"
N: "Amelie, that is enough. There are some things that only Daddys say, and that is one of them. It is not nice for little girls to say things like that. Do you understand?"
(There is a pause. Amelie nods seriously, looking chastised. And then a slow, sly smile creeps over her face...)
A: (quietly) ""

You see, part of the problem is that she has a tremendous sense of mischief. She has inherited that trait from her Daddy, but in me it's tempered by a general laziness and lack of effort. Sadly, Nini has energy enough to spare and had passed that trait along as well, so that when Ami does want to be an imp, she has the tenacity to really see it through to the bitter end..

But on to incident two, which as a counterbalance shows a rare mistake on Ninis part, giving me the moral high ground for once. I am not that used to holding the moral high ground: in fact I am such a rare visitor to those shores that I am uncomfortable with it. I always get the feeling that although it's nice, I shouldn't really be there - kind of like sitting in the First Class carriage on a train when you've only paid for a standard ticket. But I digress...

We were playing 'Count Sockula'. This involves Daddy putting a sock on his hand, making it into a snapping mouth and pretending that it is an evil Transylvanian count that "...vants to tick-le your tummy, ah hah har..."
You do need a bit of imagination to find Count Sockula scary rather than just laughable, but as his audience are under 4 years old, it works a treat. They take it very seriously: I have known Amelie to pull one of my socks from the laundry bin, throw it on the floor and then batter it with a pillow, while Neve stands by, shouting at it - just to be certain that Count Sockula will not rise again. I do sometimes wonder what mental scars I am giving my children...
Anyway, Sockula was on the prowl that day, there was much giggling and shrieking, and a fine time was being had by all. At this point, Amelie turned to Nini and said: "Mummy, sing a song about Sock-lee-ar!"
Now, Nini is used to inventing songs on the spur of the moment: she sings Amelie a song at bedtime each night and is often asked to sing about whatever subject has just popped into Amis head, so she duly makes something up on the spot. Sadly, on this occasion, her skills as a lyricist led her astray. I don't recall the exact words, but the Sockula song started with something like:
"Count Sockula, Count Sockula - he's really lots of fun!
He only comes to life when Daddys hand is up his bum..."

And then she stopped, stricken, and her hand flew to her mouth. I gasped incredulously.
P: "...Don't...don't say that! What are you saying?"
N: (panicked) "I...I don't know! I wasn't thinking!"
Again, we looked at Amelie. Her face was bright and shining with joy as she stared at her Mother expectantly, and it was clear she was hanging on every word. Remembering every word. Memorising every word...
I looked back at Nini. It was obvious that we were both thinking the same thing: at some point in the future, probably at school, though quite possibly in church, Amelie will start to tell everybody about how Daddy puts his hand up peoples bums, and what fun it is when he does.

Sigh. It strikes me that even though this last incident was Ninis fault, it will still be me who will ultimately lose: I'll be the one carted off by social services....

No comments: